Category Archives: 2 Minute Thoughts

Magic of MusIC

What is so sultry and beautiful about the singing of Bombay Jayasree, perhaps it is her rich repertoire of classical singing experience, the voice itself and her own calm and soothing personality that gives her songs the effect that sends the listener into a trance.

When one needs a little something more to get going in a day, tune into Bombay Jayasree, the ghazals by Jagjit Singh, or songs by Shweta Mohan and her mom Sujatha, it will never disappoint you.

The magic of Bombay Jayasree

Ghazals best express the pain of separation and loss and trace their history to Arabic poetry. With poignant phrases, excellent rendition, well sung ghazals tend to pull at your heartstrings and stay on in your memory evoking pleasant yet painful sensations. Maybe like what Wordsworth said in his To Daffodils

‘For oft when on my couch I life

in solemn or in pensive mood

they flash upon my inward eye

a host of golden daffodils’ recalling the impact of his sighting dancing

daffodils while on a walk.

Soulful renditions of Jagjit Singh

To this I will also add dear Norah Jones for her deep music, great lyrics and almost seductive singing. Doesn’t fit the bill, but when was music restricted to language.

Beautiful beyond words

We lost this legend recently but what a body of work, what stories, what charisma, what style! No body can replace Kenny Rogers.

If music be philosophy, play on

Though the very famous Jolene is Dolly Parton’s song, I love Miley Cyrus singing it better.

Superb

If there was ever an anthem for teachers, it has to be this.

Anthem for youth

The Stairway to Heaven is beyond compare….

Let Her Go never stops you from smiling!

Loss is love

Until sometime back all Bryan Adams was all I knew of music and it was enough.

Timeless

Understanding Violence in words

Day by day, the language in public sphere shows increasing signs of violence in words, angry, insulting, humiliating slurs are used with impunity in the public forums, in personal lives, at institutions, all in the name of being open and straightforward!

Really, why is it necessary to call each other names to put across a point.

Why should tones of expression be so loud and cutting?

What is the point in using third rate, uncivilized language?

Personally, I have often been criticized for being ‘goody goody’, the phrase will stay in my mind forever, when some of the teachers in my department chose to complain to my director about my misbehavior. It was seen as a problem that I don’t lose patience or get annoyed easily.

Well, that was then but seriously, ‘my sugar coated words’ apparently has destroyed the life and the living of my spouse, that was another barb. Interesting I thought, considering how I was trying to prep someone up and be there in a very difficult time.

I spent more than a decade and half in absolute fear of being shouted at and humiliated in public. It never occurred to me at that time that I need not take this as I did believe that something was seriously wrong with me. Walking out of the stress and abuse alone put things into perspective for me and well, I realized that I was in a very abusive relationship too late!

Yet it is true that my refusal to speak angrily or lose my temper or shout is still seen as a weakness, a sham, a put on, a farce and so on.

I have never tried to explain myself. But I do abhor violence in words, to children, to adults, to strangers, in social media, and this does make my life difficult since I struggle to express my annoyance, or pain or disappointment many a time.

I am sure it is true for many of us, who choose to be careful of the words we use and how we use them and to whom. It is not a weakness really. The world has enough of those who perpetrate hate and violence so it will be a good change to have some of us who are extremely cautious of how we express ourselves.

I remember feeling guilty of this inability to react to people or respond in the moment.I felt guilty of my so called ‘diplomacy’ that I eventually distanced myself from many who I could not understand, that my life circle has come to have too few in number, perhaps that is how it is meant to be!

But if you too believe that a word is so powerful and should be well articulated, consider this:

*Don’t speak under the influence of emotions. Compose yourself, think through and speak quietly and calmly.

*Don’t react to everything around you. Not everything needs your opinion, so just let it be.

*Our responses are guided by our state of mind,so even when something around you annoys too much, think whether your agitated response has any value to the event, individual or situation.

* Using slang is common, but refrain if possible from too many negative words. What you speak to others, tends to stick to you too.

*Ask yourself do you want to waste your energy, your precious life energy in shouting at someone? You really need not do this, it is harmful to you as it is to others.

*Does the other person understand that your anger is an expression of your concern? If it is, well, you may sometimes, very sparingly, let your anger off the hook, but be careful to rein it in quickly or it becomes a habit.

If you too think being sweet in speaking is a problem, let go of that thought. It is ok to be mindful of what you utter and how and to whom, in fact you are doing a great service by not adding to pain, abuse and indifference that already exists.

To those who ridicule you for exercising restraint in words, you may ask them to look up the universally acknowledged, ‘ashtanga marga’ propounded by none other than Buddha!

Loss and healing

My students ask me questions of all kinds.

Sometimes of dealing with love, ‘I have this strange feeling when I meet her and if she doesn’t come to college sometimes, I feel anxious? Am I normal?Am I sinning?’

Young minds and young hearts are tender and sometimes volatile and over analysis of life experiences often add to the difficulty.

What could I say, but that’ it is normal to feel what you do. Relish the feeling, it simply means you are capable of love.’ The young man smiled a bit relaxed.

‘I have no interest in life. I feel I have lost everything. How does one deal with such feeling’. What would you do?, said another. Here is my answer to this question that came my way on a teacher’s day!

Life is difficult, it really is. The world around us somehow makes us believe that life is going to be a cake walk for us but no, life has customized experiences for each one of us.

The purpose of these experiences is not clear to us as we live through it, perhaps it is just merely accidental.

*Try crying your heart out and release the negativity with in and you will instantly feel lighter.

*Tell yourself that you are feeling sad or heartbroken and feeling devastated. Acknowledge the pain. Be kind to yourself.

*Sharing your experience with a real friend is a good idea. Pouring out your pain helps in healing, but be careful to find someone non-judgmental, while you do so.

*A dairy is a good place to vent your painful emotions. It is a good listener too and when your mind and hand co-ordinate to write, it speeds up your healing process.

*Activities that involve physical exertion are good for healing. Try cleaning up your room, cooking up something delicious or gardening, even a long walk can help.

*Nature is a great healer. Going for a walk out in the open, will energize you.

*If you have pets, spend some time with them. Animals are generous in giving love. You may consider going to an animal shelter to spend some time with the lovely beings and get healed in return.

*Many individuals engage themselves in works of charity or just helping out someone in need, at an old age home, an orphanage etc. By giving love and care to others, you feel cared and loved for too.

*Do you have a hobby? If yes, it is a good excuse to spend more time doing what you are passionate about. If no, then it is a good time to find one of your choice and nurture it over a period of time.

*Exercise to heal. Whether you are a fitness freak or not, spending time in exercise will help you feel upbeat and enthusiastic.

*If you have the means and permission to travel do that. A change of place is good for the heart.

*Life experiences vary in intensity but honestly, there is pain and pleasure in equal measure for all. So never feel you are the only one to suffer. If others can get out of pain, you too can with a winsome smile on your face.

*Watch a movie that is inspirational.Recently I watched the movie, I,Tonya, and was shaken by the enormous self will of the protagonist.

Remember everything is not lost till the breath is lost, so there is hope and time to make things good.

Besides, time is a great healer, just hold on and allow time to work its magic.

Years of human evolution has empowered us with many tricks of the trade of living, our spirit is tenacious, resilient and indefatigable. Believe in the power of your mind.

Good luck!

Surely, this too shall pass!!!

Hope you will read this.

Love

Sreelekha mam

Connection chaotic

Everyone seeks to connect, to make meaningful relationships, be it with a friend, spouse, partner, children, colleagues and so on. Yet, it is one of the most difficult thing to achieve in life.

I wonder why in a world filled with lonely people, it is so difficult to find the right people to connect with.

Why do we struggle so much in making the right emotional connect?

Is it that we are all guided by some impractical, fancy notions of connections that most of us tend to feel incomplete and continue looking for making the right connect.

Well, I often think when love and affection and understanding is what a human soul, even Andrew(my cat), truly yearns for, what is that stops us from accepting love that comes our way and look for what is not available?

Complicated!

Perhaps real love or that soul connect that is talked about is just fanciful.

Couples who stay together for a long time, having weathered many storms even tend to look alike, some how changing themselves even in appearance, it is really something!

To grow old with a soul of your choice is what each individual looks forward to. Someone who would sort of stand up for you, or someone on whom you can lean on and not be judged.

Yet, it is one thing that is looks to be most difficult, besides, there is no school teaching this either!

In ‘The Glass Menagerie’ by Tenesse Williams, the mother nostalgically talks about the many’gentleman callers’ who routinely turned up at her home.

Yet the man who she married remains visible only in a portrait hung up on the wall!

So well it is not many trials that lead one to the right soul. Maybe, maybe not!

Besides, one can’t always be at a ‘whole sale market for souls’, with cries like ‘le lo’ ,’le lo’, ‘ selling at half price!!!’

Seriously, because in giving, there is a lot of taking, in taking there is a lot of giving, that is the reality of the soul exchange!!!

W.H. Auden’s Miss Gee is a sarcastic take on a woman who is unfulfilled, because she is unmarried, therefore she is unloved, and has therefore cancer eating into her flesh and soul, with no bosom, thin lips , she is a non-entity until she reaches the anatomy table to be mocked at by Mr. Rose, the surgeon and his students.

https://www.poeticous.com/w-h-auden/miss-gee

That is how single woman came out in public imagination, whether it is films or poetry or novels, the rude spinster, who holds a grudge and is loud and foul mouthed is a stereotype all too common.

Her solitude is her failure, her lack of charm, her lack of worthiness, lack of desirability making her a sort of social outcast out to ruin marriages, relationships and what not!

Well, a single man is not considered a loser, he may even be a philosopher, a writer, an ascetic, a noble soul, given to charity and other humanitarian causes, where as a single woman is a thing to despise, to not trust and to generally keep away from, especially if she also happens to be confident and comes across as courageous.

A gentleman talked about ‘ khuli gaay’ ‘untethered cow’, in a discussion about women’s safety and security.

What said the women, who, what did you just say???

The man sort of stammered, fumbled and cut the talk, perhaps realizing he belonged to ice age or maybe slyly thinking the women might be horrendous, especially the ‘talking types’!

I realize I have been meandering but unless there is acceptance of people as they are, the real connect can never happen.

Also, why do some of us, want to connect to the self same people? Hmmm… not sure!

Back to the classroom

In the cozy confines of home, even though one is masked, one is still comfortable.

Such evenings are now dedicated to learning and teaching, what a joy!

Even if the class has but one student, the experience is so joyful that the grin is now pasted even more prominently on my face.

I had to struggle for this literally, this experience of the classroom.

Earlier it was the inconvenience of others, my own laziness, the awkwardness of having to ask or set a price for teaching which stopped me from doing this.

Now, I can only see reasons to have children coming to learn at home, how blissful it really is, especially since avenues to teach at college looked rather dim.

I find myself waking up thinking of what to do the next day, how to start the class, what activities to do and what to do to refresh my own competency!

Its is a handful definitely but it is unbelievably refreshing and energizing, that someone commented,’so what’s sort of brightening the smile these days?, rather slyly.

I shrugged, who would believe?

Yet, the joy of engaging in one’s favorite activity is unlimited, work is no work, rather it is rejuvenating.

I remembered how as a school teacher prancing from one class to another, naively believing in one’s noble contribution to the nation and the future making or simply trying not to get caught by the principal, who is probably observing through the CCTV, one still managed to keep up the smiles and the laughs.

How a simple ‘good morning mam’ or ‘we missed you yesterday, mam’ would make you feel on top of the world. I know, its not always very sincere but so what, at that present moment, a teacher feels the life purpose fulfilled, totally. I know I did.

Sometimes the questions are challenging and you answer, ‘let me look that up’ and the child is ok with that, some times a student more knowledgeable in the subject tends to raise his/her hand to stand up and share and it is all part of the game.

When life goes topsy turvy, when roads look dim and long ahead, do consider going to the classroom as a teacher, there is an eager lot waiting to hear you and learn from you.

Achan said, it is not for money, you see, and I corrected, it indeed is for money!

And he just went silent at my commercialized outlook to the noble profession of teaching!

The silence was telling….

A Leap of Faith

Faith,some times strangely weak and low but at other times surging in waves of optimism, of dreams, of ideas, of thoughts, of being able to do something.

Something, what is that something, where does it begin? Will it see its own flourish or decline, will it in that process, let me grow or pull me down?

Will I be bewildered at my own audacity and suddenly quit?

Will I, so often terrified of being lonely, be able to stand up and fight and build something beautiful despite fear, of failure, of mockery, of being a very public and unique disaster?

Will I be able to manage the queries about a life so uninteresting and yet different in its own way?

How will I be able to justify, even if I care not, will I have the strength to steer through?

Listening to Paul Kalanithi’s When Breath Becomes Air, it is impossible for me to not think of possible pitfalls of a leap of faith.

I listened to my fellow colleague who had quit recently a lady of a stern spine, one who refused to placate and plead as she urged me to stay on’you put in a lot of hard work and thought, you should not be deprived of its benefits’, she said.

I wondered if I really wanted that. I wondered if there was ambition enough in me to scale up professionally.

Perhaps I don’t want to be in a fight for petty causes over pettier things, my chair, your chair, my view, yours….

There should be something better.

There has to be a purpose for every life.

Even mine.

When life times are measured against set standards, I am sure of being found a failure, but in my own ways, I have protested and stayed clear of expectations, treasuring my freedom of thought, and now independence in living.

A friend invited to set up a new system, ‘ you could be a good asset’, I thanked for the invitation. Very tempting indeed. What would I not give for the freedom of expression and the company of a friendly mentor and guide?

While efforts to get to the purposes of life should never go lax, it is important to acknowledge and understand the many factors beyond, forces and times that have a life of their and will still have the power to impact you.

Hold on to dear faith

seek always new ways

forget and forgive

what is not to be

who are not around

nothing matters

except for living

a clean state

so smile, smile and live.

All set and nowhere to go

Strange are the ways of the universe!

Having led me to believe in change, she turns back and shuts a door.

Another door shut.

Well, it is not the first time so I sigh and say to myself, perhaps there is something better.

A change of place, not to be.

A change of a city, not to be.

New place, new challenges, new experiences. That was the idea.

Well! they say its just in the stars, the complications and the twists.

Perhaps, perhaps not.

Maybe it is not that bleak after all

I just a saw a few silver linings!

Got to hang on to hopes!

Change, wow great

no change, ok will survive…

coz if you made it this far

won’t you just make it a little more

besides what is the point in sulking?!!!

what will come, will come

but then you ask

quando, quando

sweet friend!!!

Quando Quando

Sweet life, quando, quando!!!!

Sigh!!!!

The musings of a wallflower

So, there was she, all excited to receive her guests in transit. That is right, so her guests were moving on and had decided to have a pit stop at her home.

She was ecstatic. Going overboard and very much misreading the date, she went on to cook some delicious stuff and when the reality hit her, she felt like a fool.

Fool she was but most importantly it made her realize the deep desire in her heart to be among those she thought as valuable to her.

(How often does she not return calls? eh?, the grass is greener on the other side!!!)

Silly of course.When indeed the week after when they landed up at her door, she had already done everything she could to receive them with love.

How beautiful it is to have family?How wonderful is it to be able to sit down together? How sweet that she should be chosen to be with?

With such thoughts and thinking of a certain someone who chose to leave for his heavenly abode too early, she sighed but felt ‘ecstatic’.

What surprised her was that she was just ‘a wall flower’, a ‘cupboard’ or some thing in the house, her home to her visitors.

Having called over their friends, the guests and their guests chilled and had a good time, so they said and thanked profusely.

She turned around in disbelief at how she was definitely not in the league to make good conversation!

Funny, she nodded, and the girl chirped, I thought so too,mom and they sighed.

Such are times.

Courtesy of a visitor:

*Be polite

* Make conversation

*Find time and take effort to personalize conversation

*Ask about the people, pets at home.

*Spend time

Perhaps it is not right to expect so much.

Perhaps it is just the expectation that makes it weird.

Perhaps you are like that too when you visit.

Hmmm…perhaps

But then, she asked herself, ‘Tell me honestly, haven’t you been guilty of the same?’!!!! Cough! Cough!!!

Old is gold, the sari story

Knowing that the girl will move out of home for studies, and then work, maybe, one is holding on to those precious moments of companionship.

The other day while arranging my wardrobe, I found myself peddling my saris in all serious to my daughter.

“This is good you know, looks simple, but has an elegance to it, I said showing off a mrignayanee one”. “Yeah” maybe said she,” I will pair it with a turtle neck top”.

Now this , now that, I went on showing off saris one after another as if they were trophies or medals won at some prestigious tournaments.

There was a certain pride in me, a desire to see her wear those, even a desperation for her approval of my choices may be, I don’t know .

Later I thought to myself of what sort of validation was I seeking by pushing this agenda?!!!! Some sinister motherly ones for sure!!!!

Hmm..clever manipulations of something of a sinister plot by a mother disguised and dressed in the form of concern and care….sounds diabolical almost!!! Crazy!!!

I also realized that back home amma does pretty much the same thing, when she rattles off stories of her sari whenever I steal a look into her almirah.

Time has indeed come a full circle.

Sprouting thrift shops for saris have some how changed this scenario where ladies of the house are peddling their precious five and a half metre garment online in exchange for others, after isn’t change the only constant.

Incidentally, I have actively participated in this ‘Old is gold’ concept by being a consumer myself.The experiences have been a mixed bag so far, what drives me is the thought that these practices do somehow dent (???) the human impact on the planet.

Repurposing saris is a big time business these days.From cushion covers to table tops to bags to everything is being a lift with a brocade or a cutting lifted from a discard worthy sari.

Good enough. In fact, sharing of resources is nothing new to mankind. Until recently entire generations of men and women grew up entirely on hands down garments from relatives and friends and well, it was not looked down upon.

Well, one needs to perhaps remember and reiterate the old values of ‘don’t waste’,or waste is criminal negligence from our parents and elders.

But ‘thrifting’ is big business on Instagram and it is amazing to see youngsters especially accepting and practicing it with enthusiasm.

Looks like the younger are also more wiser! What say!

https://yourstory.com/herstory/2019/10/women-running-successful-thrift-stores-online

https://lbb.in/bangalore/collections-reloved-online-thrift-shopping/

https://ask.metafilter.com/275539/What-happens-to-old-saris

ulli Theeyal and some cooking thoughts

Cooking is not a constant love but love it is and a comfort, many times.So it was with cooking up ‘Ulli theeyal’ today.

When the work place looks threatening and the chair looks shaky, I always think that with some polishing I can cook up delicious stuff and that is reassuring.

After all there is always going to be demand for food, good food that is!

Way back in 2009 when we south Indian teachers team put up a Dosa stall at Daly College for the Annual Fund Raising Event ,with some chutney podi and coconut chutney, we not only made it to the Dainik Bhaskar but also topped in income.

Beaming at the top notch performance with the demand still growing at 6 pm when all other stalls had closed down, I was interrupted by Mr. Jacob John Sir who said, ‘So Lekha, what did you learn?’ , ‘Get started, don’t waste time,’ he laughed.

There are times when I hark back to this advice. When in 2016 turbulence rocked Alliance University, where I had rushed to join after a hasty retreat from the corporate. Then recently during the quarantine when pay cuts rock the apple cart, I do think, ‘will the ladoos sell?’ or may be the cookies or just the parathas….

Or should I look some writing jobs, but do they pay?

Maybe some speaking, but who will listen in the quarantine?

Thoughts come and go, but one knows for sure that one will stand up and fight, no matter what, as they say, been there, done that.

But Ulli Theeyal makes a good combo with malabar poratta. Worth a try.

Recently when my daughter dished up some tasty Paneer Butter Masala and Chicken curry, I complimented her on acquiring a worthy life skill…no, not for any man, but just for herself, her happiness.

So here is a video on the famed ulli theeyal…I might just start posting my cooking videos till then .. these videos by Hema are brilliantly done.